Rockford Public Schools is sharing information with parents this week about an expected strike with three of its labor unions: Paraprofessionals, nutrition service workers and bus drivers. The No. 1 thing for parents to know: School will be in session during a strike.
"We know that we need these employees to effectively and efficiently run our schools," said Superintendent Ehren Jarrett. "But we also need to do what's best for students. Keeping our schools open and providing a structured, safe learning environment for our students is our priority."
Employees plan to strike starting Wednesday, March 15. Labor unions must notify the district at least 10 days ahead of a strike. If additional information becomes available, it will be shared via automated call and/or email for parents and staff, posts on social media channels and rps205.com, and through local media.
The district has plans at the building and district level to accommodate all students during the strike:
- Transportation will not be provided during a strike. Transportation services will continue for students who ride a Sunrise bus to or from school. Transportation for after-school activities – including athletics – will not be provided. Athletic directors and coaches will provide information about alternative transportation to and from games. Schools will open one hour early to help accommodate parents/guardians who are able to drop off their children before work. Schools will dismiss at their regularly scheduled time, and students should be picked up as scheduled.
- Students will receive breakfast and lunch. Meals will differ from what's on the published menu; students can expect more prepackaged meals, sandwiches and breakfast kits. Each meal will comply with the USDA guidelines and cater to students' dietary and allergy restrictions.
- Student support: Services provided by paraprofessionals will be provided by other certified, trained staff. Students with special needs will be the priority, with a focus on students' safety and personal care needs.
The district has offered a competitive compensation package that includes a net raise for all employees in the first year, and a net raise in the second and third years for the vast majority of employees, as long as they participate in the district's Wellness Plan. Under the District's proposed plan, health insurance premiums will be the same for all RPS 205 teachers, nutrition services staff, bus drivers and paraprofessionals. "The total compensation package is both fair to employees and taxpayers, and it's also competitive in the region," said School Board President Ken Scrivano.
District leaders will continue to negotiate in good faith with each labor union. Additional updates will be shared as they're available.